The Minor Pentatonic Scale - Pattern 1
If you want to learn to play Blues Lead Guitar, this is where to start
In this lesson we look at the most basic alphabet used in blues, The Minor Pentatonic Scale. I'm hoping you've seen this before, but we'll chat more this time about using Finger 3 on the thinnest strings for the Blues.
Right through this whole course we're going to be playing in the Key of A. After many years of teaching I've found that students make the connections between the scale patterns and licks much better if it's all taught in the one key. I'll show you how to move the scales to other keys in the last lesson of this first module but I strongly recommend getting to grips with a solo in A before moving on to other keys!
The first scale most people learn on the guitar is The Minor Pentatonic scale. It's pretty easy to play and because of it's 'box' shape is pretty easy to remember. You need to play the scale up and down, with a metronome if you can and try to make every note clean and strong.
The Minor Pentatonic (Pattern 1)
We're playing this scale in the Key of A, so place the (R) on the 5th fret. The (R) is the Root note and determines and is the Key of the scale.
When playing this scale, do not move your first finger from the 5th fret area when reaching up to the higher note, you need to develop your stretch!
Finger 3 for The Blues
When you learn String Bending (next lesson) you are going to see that it can help a lot to get the thumb over the top of the neck, so do make sure you work a bit on the transition of the thumb position from behind to over the top. Like most everything else it will take time and practice but strick with it and don't expect immediate results! Remember that you will most likely spend more time on the thinnest strings with thumb over than you will on the thicker strings with thmb behind. You'll probably still be working on a smooth transition of the thumb movement for the rest of this module, so don't rush it or wait here until you mastered it!
Please note that in previous incarnations of this series I taught The Blues Scale at this point too - but my experience teaching it has shown it's better learned a little later in the course - don't be in a hurry - there are plently of useful important words to learn and explore just using the humble Minor Pentatonic!
Here are some tips to help you learn your scales well, make the most of your practice time! This stuff was all covered in both The Beginner's Course and The Intermediate Method but in case you've forgotten...
1. Always start and finish on the lowest root note. You won't be doing this all the time but it will help you a lot for future scale patterns (when the root note is not the lowest note) so get into the habit now!
2. Always make sure you get it right! Play it VERY slowly and ensure you get the notes right every time. Every mistake you make will mess with the 'code' in your brain and it takes many plays to overwrite the mistakes!
3. I recommend practicing the scale with Finger 4 on thinnest strings to start. Once you feel comfortable with it then start exploring using Finger 3 and bringing the thumb over. This is likely to take quite alot of practice so don't be disappointed if it feels clunky and awkward when you start doing it.
4. Practice playing the scale up and down with a metronome. Note sure how to use a metronome for scale practice then watch the lesson on Playing Scales With A Metronome (from The Intermediate Method).
First Steps In Improvisation
Now that you know your basic scales, I would suggest that you have a 'play around' and try improvising with them! Using a Blues backing track in the key of A you should explore playing the scale over the backing track and just have some fun with it!
Don't expect to be ripping out any face melting incredible solos just yet, just experiment and try out the scales and see what they sound like. Play around, have fun and see what you got!
If you have listened to a lot of blues you might find yourself playing some words that you stumble upon - and that's great if you do!
In the next lesson we'll be learning the most essential Blues technique which we'll be using in our first words (licks!), String Bending In The Blues!
Remember that listening to great Blues is an essential part of the course, so try and check out all my recommended albums, they're the best of the best!
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood (1983)
SRV was an incredible guitar player, for sure one of the greatest to grace our planet, and this album features some of the finest Texas Blues you'll ever hear. From the raw power of Pride And Joy to the subtle jazz fringes in Lenny, this is one of the all time great blues albums!
Here's a sample backing track from my Jam Blues II collection, a Blues in A in the style of BB King. You can download and jam over it and if you enjoy it, please consider buying the rest of the album, they're all great fun for jamming! So grab out your A Minor Pentatonic and your A Blues scale and go exploring that alphabet!
Essential Blues Lead Guitar Course DVD set
Blues Lead Guitar Course DVD (with bonus content and Jam CD) available in The Justinguitar Store.